24 Feb 2001 Pre-2014 Releases

Foot and Mouth and the Movement of Horses

Published: 24 February 2001

Advice on the Precautions that Should be Taken by Those Involved in Training and Racing Horses in Response to the Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease

These guidance notes incorporate advice to the Equine Industry from the Ministry of Agriculture and are issued by the Jockey Club, BHB, National Trainer’s Federation and Racecourse Association.

Foot and Mouth Disease is caused by a highly infectious virus which can infect cattle, sheep, goats and all ruminating animals as well as pigs. It does not infect horses, people or dogs but they can nevertheless spread the virus in two ways:

 Material from an infected animal (dung, hair etc.) could be carried on hooves, bodies and tack of horses and by the rider. It could be carried from areas containing infected animals to previously “clean” areas.

 Alternatively wild animals that are infected with foot and mouth (e.g. deer, feral stock etc) could be driven from their home areas carrying infection with them.

Restrictions which may apply as a result of Foot and Mouth Disease

The following is a summary of the restrictions that may impact upon the equine industry if an infected area is declared.

Horses and farm animals

Because horses are not susceptible to Foot and Mouth disease, they are not covered by the Foot and Mouth Order. This means that there is no legal restriction on their movement in an Infected Area, except on or off an infected farm, and they are not included in the nationwide ban on the movement of farm animals. However, all involved in training and racing horses, either under Rules or in Point to Point races, must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that they do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease amongst farm animals.

Infected Areas

When an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is confirmed, the Ministry declares an area around the infected premises to be an “Infected Area”. The Infected Area extends for a distance of not less than 10km radius around the Infected Place but its size may be greater if information from epidemiologists (veterinarians and scientists who study the spread of a disease) suggests that prevailing weather conditions may have caused a “virus plume”.

The Infected Area is defined by reference to topographical and other easily identifiable physical features which can be found on the 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain. Movements of animals in this area are kept to a minimum and certain other restrictions are enforced. The Infected Area is imposed by a Special Order made under the provisions of the foot-and-mouth legislation.

Infected Areas currently imposed can be found on the MAFF web site at

Controlled Areas

A Controlled Area is of much greater extent than an Infected Area and is imposed when there is good reason to believe that there has been or is likely to be widespread dissemination of the disease. Usually this occurs when potentially infected animals have been widely distributed through a market. Its main purpose is to enable veterinary staff to trace these animals, inspect them, require their isolation and impose restrictions on the premises of destination.

Within a Controlled Area the movement of animals is controlled by licence and stock markets are normally closed. A Controlled Area is normally in force for a short period but it may encompass a very wide area in order to reduce farm animal movement when the country is experiencing a major epidemic of FMD. At the time of writing (February 23rd) the whole of Britain has been declared a Controlled Area for seven days.

General advice for people leaving an Infected Area

Persons resident on a farm, or any premises holding farm animals, in an Infected Area should avoid coming into contact with any other farm animals and should refrain from going into fields or premises where such stock may be driven later.

Before leaving the Infected Area they should:-

a) disinfect all footwear used;

b) wear clothes which have had no possible contact with farm stock – if there is any doubt the clothes should be dry cleaned;

c) wash with plenty of hot water and soap, not forgetting the hair;

d) disinfect the outside of any item that may have been in contact with other articles in general use on the farm.

People having no contact with farm animals need take no special precautions except to keep away from farm animals and to travel on main roads wherever possible.

Restrictions and Precautions on Outdoor Activities in an Infected Area

Hunting, including the hunting and stalking of deer, point-to-point racing, the shooting, or attempted shooting at game or other wildlife, and the racing or coursing or the training for any racing or coursing of hounds or other dogs are prohibited within an Infected Area. This restriction can be extended to race meetings on licensed racecourses.

The culling of deer can be authorised by licence within an Infected Area by a Ministry Inspector.

Any other sporting or recreational activity which could cause infection to spread in an Infected Area can be prohibited by serving a notice. These powers could be invoked, for example, to prevent the holding of any recreational fixture which involved entry on land used by susceptible animals or in the vicinity of Infected Premises. The land in question must be specified in the notice and each case must be considered on its merits from a disease standpoint. This could include hunter trials, eventing, cross country rides, hacking across farmland.

The following general advice applies to activities in an Infected Area:

 Visits to farms must be restricted to what is absolutely essential and then be subject to disinfection routines.

 Persons from rural parts of infected areas should not go on to land where there is livestock.

Export of horses

This is not covered by the present EU export ban.


 Should avoid using any ground occupied by farm animals and should not take horses to school or exercise away from their own premises or usual exercise grounds.

 Should travel directly to and from race meetings avoiding any premises holding farm animals, using main roads where possible.

 Trainers with farm animals on their premises should disinfect the wheels of their vehicle, using a straw pad soaked in a MAFF approved disinfectant, and/or a knapsack sprayer each time that they leave and return to their yards. For these trainers, the best practice, in any area of the country, is to follow the advice given above for people leaving an infected area.


MAFF can prohibit any race meeting in an infected area. In anticipation of this, the Stewards of The Jockey Club, in discussion with the racecourse, would abandon the meeting under Rule 1A(iii).

All race meetings should, until further notice, adopt the following precautions:

 As a minimum, ensure that all horsebox wheels are thoroughly disinfected (with a MAFF approved disinfectant) at the entrance/exit to the horsebox park. Disinfection should be carried out while the lorries remain on a hard road and before they enter the lorry park. This can be achieved by spraying using a knapsack sprayer, and by setting up a “pad” con